Jose Berrio brings warm tones, nostalgic textures and fun typography to his illustration work

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Jose’s creative journey began after high school, when, unsure of what to do next, his mother and aunt suggested taking design software courses in Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, and Flash. Feeling a lack of confidence in her drawing skills and “doing manual stuff in general”, digital tools gave her confidence in illustration. “It also helped me develop a style, as I was always trying to mimic analog finishes, using a bunch of textures and brushes,” he explains. In an ironic turn of events, in recent years Jose has started drawing and painting more, “trying to create more organically what I was able to develop digitally.” Now he often incorporates his analog work into the final piece, whether drawing letters and shapes by hand, or scanning textures and collages, motivated by the realization that this multimedia approach “adds a lot of character” to his work. Lately, photography has also helped the illustrator and designer to be “more contemplative and develop a higher fascination with light and color.”

Throughout this time, music has remained Jose’s main source of inspiration, especially Alan Vega, Nina Simone and David Byrne. In his portfolio, you’ll notice a lot of work for other bands and musical projects, such as Bring Music Home, an initiative to help venues suffering economically during the pandemic. Campaign organizers asked Jose, one of many artists, to create posters celebrating a city – in the case of Jose, New York and Tulsa – the brief asking him to capture the spirit of the music scene in these places. For New York, he was inspired by the diversity of the city. “I’ve always found it fascinating to see how this city has been the birthplace of such a wide range of musical genres and cultural movements,” says Jose. As a drummer himself, he was brought in to represent a drum that is also a crucible sitting on a subway vent, taking inspiration from The Velvet Underground’s Charged album cover.

He notes, on topics that often creep into his work, that he is “a very nostalgic person, so I find a lot of inspiration in memories, especially when they’re out of context, and artifacts of a another time”. This, again, comes into place when you see the nostalgic feel of Jose’s work and the refreshing and unexpected imagery he brings into play.

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